A Novel Amusement

Find below, and at its online home, my translation of Lu Ling’s (very) short story “A Novel Amusement” (1944). Last week, we published a translation of his “Autumn Night.” Enjoy.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

A Novel Amusement 新奇的娛樂

By Lu Ling 路翎

Translated by Kirk A. Denton [*]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February 2023)

Lu Ling, circa 1950s.

On the side of a muddy street in dark and dreary Chongqing, people began to form a single-file line at a bus stop. One by one the newly-arrived joined in, and the line got longer and longer. Most in the line were functionaries impeccably dressed in uniforms and overcoats of grey, yellow, and black; amongst this drabness were the pretty silk scarves, hairpins, and brightly colored jackets worn by young girls. Standing among them were also a few rather unsightly workers, troubled youths, and drifters.

They had been waiting for the bus for a long time and were bored, restless, and annoyed. Some among them read newspapers, some repeatedly tightened their belts to make themselves appear yet more impeccable; others—the young girls—forever under the impression that it had come undone, played continuously with their hair.

Cars and trucks rushed along the street splattering mud . . . Continue reading

The Sacred Marriage

Source: China Daily (2/20/23)
New novel explores challenges faced by urban elites in the new era
By Yang Yang

Shensheng Hunyin (The Sacred Marriage) by Xu Kun. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A new novel Shensheng Hunyin (The Sacred Marriage) by Xu Kun has been recently published by People’s Literature Publishing House.

Xu, with a broad vision and in a sharp writing style, directly addresses the dramatic and complicated changes that young people who return from overseas, outsiders coming to work in Beijing, intellectuals, and cadres who are sent on a temporary task are facing in a new era of the development of Chinese society.

Vivid personal experiences, powerful characterization, and heart-wrenching pain not only display Xu’s unique writing style of playfulness and irony, but also imparts the story with profound feelings.

“From narration to structure, from characterization to plotting, The Sacred Marriage shows the internal rhythm of the new era we are now existing in,” said Li Yan, general manager of China Publishing Group, at the book launch ceremony in Beijing.

“It displays the aesthetic characteristics of fiction in the new era, while exploring serious topics, using China’s traditional cultural value to examine the experiences and changes of urban elites, intellectuals and overseas returnees,” he said. Continue reading

China’s Online Literature and the Problem of Preservation

Webinar: Dr. Michel Hockx – China’s Online Literature and the Problem of Preservation
Thursday, March 30, 2023
6:00-7:30p.m. CST
Virtual event held on Zoom.
Please register to attend:


Since its inception in the late 1990s, websites devoted to the production and discussion of literary work have been ubiquitous on the Chinese Web. Over the years, the study of online literature has become an established field of inquiry within the Chinese academy. General studies and textbooks have been produced, and especially for the first decade or so of online literary production, there appears to be consensus on what were the most important sites, authors, and works. This emerging canon of born-digital works, however, can rarely still be found online in its original location and context. This paper addresses the challenges of preserving early Chinese Internet literature, as well as the opportunities for literary analysis when preservation does take place.

About the speaker

Dr. Michel Hockx is professor of Chinese Literature in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures and director of the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely, both in English and in Chinese, on topics related to modern Chinese literary culture, especially early 20th-century Chinese magazine literature and print culture and contemporary Internet literature. His monograph Internet Literature in China was listed by Choice magazine as one of the “Top 25 Outstanding Academic Titles of 2015.”

Posted by: Faye Xiao <>

Arise, Africa! Roar, China! review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Emily Wilcox’s review of Arise, Africa! Roar China!: Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century, by Gao Yunxiang. The review appears below and at its online home: My thanks to our literary studies book review editor, Nicholas Kaldis, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Arise, Africa! Roar, China!: Black and
Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century

By Gao Yunxiang

Reviewed by Emily Wilcox

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2023)

Yunxiang Gao, Arise, Africa! Roar, China!: Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century Chapel Hill, N.C.: The University of North Carolina Press, 2021. xi + 392 pp. ISBN 978-1-4696-6460-6 (cloth).

Gao Yunxiang’s new monograph Arise, Africa! Roar, China! Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century explores Sino-African American relations during the mid-twentieth century through five interconnected case studies: W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, Liu Liangmo 劉良模, Sylvia Si-lan Chen Leyda 陳茜[錫,西]蘭, and Langston Hughes. Drawing extensively on archival sources in the United States, published sources in Chinese, English, and Russian, and writings by these individuals, their family members, and their biographers, Gao documents how Chinese and African Americans interacted and collaborated with one other in diverse ways between the 1930s and the 1970s. Moving beyond a state-to-state understanding of international engagement, Gao examines how personal relationships and opportunities for travel and translation that developed in this period enabled forms of intellectual and artistic work and political activism, producing new mutual understandings and forms of transnational belonging across the Pacific.

Departing somewhat from recent scholarship that emphasizes the limitations of Afro-Asian discourse and its imagined intimacies, as well as work that focuses on one side of the China-African American interactions during this period, Gao seeks to document historical instances of connection and engagement through an approach that places equal emphasis on both Chinese and US source materials. As Gao asserts in the final paragraph of her book: Continue reading

China’s Path from Poverty to the Gilded Age

Webinar – China’s Path from Poverty to the Gilded Age
Date: Monday, 6 March 2023
Time: 12pm-1.30pm, EST (5pm-6.30pm, GMT)
Register here:


Over the last four decades, China has undergone a great transformation – from impoverishment to a Gilded Age of rapid growth paired with corruption and inequality. What lessons of development should the world learn from this mixed outcome?

Drawing from her books, How China Escaped the Poverty Trap (2016) and China’s Gilded Age (2020), Professor Yuen Yuen Ang underscores three lessons. (1) Learn from both China’s successes and failures: In China, the past success of industrial capitalism under a collective leadership laid the seeds for its problems today, including corruption, inequality, and political fragmentation. (2) Don’t learn the wrong lessons: China’s success does not prove that autocracy is superior to democracy in performance; rather, it reminds us that autocracies must temper its worst tendencies in order to perform. (3) Adapt the right national lessons to different national contexts, rather than blindly emulating and copying. Professor Ang stresses that these lessons apply to China’s rise as much as they apply to lessons we’ve drawn, correctly and incorrectly, from the rise of the West. Continue reading

Imagining India in Modern China review

MCLC Resource Center is pleased to announce publication of Adhira Mangalagiri’s review of Imagining India in Modern China: Literary Decolonization and the Imperial Unconscious, 1895-1962, by Gal Gvili. The review appear below and at its online home: My thanks to our translation/translation studies book review editor, Michael Hill, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Imagining India in Modern China: Literary
Decolonization and the Imperial Unconscious, 1895-1962

By Gal Gvili

Reviewed by Adhira Mangalagiri

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February, 2023)

Gal Gvili, Imagining India in Modern China: Literary Decolonization and the Imperial Unconscious, 1895-1962. New York: Columbia University Press, 2022. 264 pp. ISBN 9780231205719 (paper).

Imagining India in Modern China: Literary Decolonization and the Imperial Unconscious, 1895-1962 makes a compelling case for reading Chinese writers’ imaginations of India as constitutive of the makings of both Chinese anti-imperial discourse and the project of modern Chinese literature as a whole. Gal Gvili convincingly argues that during the early decades of the twentieth century—a period marked by vigorous contestation over literature’s forms and uses—the practice of seeking imagined connections to India proved a powerful strategy for Chinese writers to “undo imperialist knowledge structures” (2). The book’s conceptual framework hinges upon the seeming contradiction between, on the one hand, Chinese writers’ interest in the idea of India as a site for anti-imperialist thought and, on the other, the markedly imperialist and Orientalist character of those texts and discourses about India accessible in China at the time. The book’s central task lies in exposing the mediating force of “Western imperialism’s truth claims and structures of knowledge” in Chinese imaginations of India (4), what Gvili terms “the imperial unconscious” (9). The book argues that attending to the workings of the imperial unconscious does not diminish “the anticolonial critique and fervor with which Chinese writers turned to India,” but instead “makes clearer the immensely complicated epistemic untangling they undertook” (19). Although the idea of the “imperial unconscious” has been explored in other contexts,[1] Imagining India importantly introduces this concept to the study of modern Chinese literature, a field in which there still remains much to uncover regarding the role of colonial networks and hierarchies in shaping the literary sphere. Continue reading

Interview with Murong Xuecun

Source: The China Project (2/17/23)
From prizewinning author to censored chronicler of COVID in Wuhan — Q&A with Murong Xuecun in exile
Murong Xuecun rose to fame as an internet writer, and then won a prestigious official literature award in 2010. But then the state turned on him. His most recent book, ‘Deadly Quiet City,’ tells the stories of eight people in Wuhan in the spring of 2020.
By Jeremy Goldkorn

Illustration by Nadya Yeh.

He was “one of China’s most famous cyber-writers,” the state-run newspaper China Daily said in 2004, describing Mùróng Xuěcūn 慕容 雪村, the pen name of Hǎo Qún 郝群. Those were heady days: The China Daily is a propaganda sheet, but back then, it dared to print a story about Murong Xuecun that opens like this:

He describes himself as pessimistic and lacking ambition, he says he’s ugly and vulgar and likes good food and drink above all else.

His novel, Chengdu, Leave Me Alone Tonight (成都,今夜请将我遗忘) was a… trend setter [that] sparked a series of books describing life in modern Chinese cities where the young abandon idealism in search of fortune.

Murong says he writes for fun. He says he’s never had any ambitions to make [it] big in Chinese literary circles, and has no interest in dealing with “profound” social issues.

There is no way a passage like that would appear in the China Daily today. Murong, too, has changed. He is still something of a punk, but he has found himself dragged willy-nilly, or perhaps rather willingly, into “profound social issues.”

In 2010, he published The Missing Ingredient of China (中国, 少了一味药), an investigative piece about a criminal gang running a pyramid scam, which won that year’s People’s Literature Prize (人民文学奖). But he was not allowed to give his acceptance speech, which was a searing indictment of the censorship process at Chinese publishing houses and media. (The New York Times later published a translation of the speech.) Continue reading

Co-Producing with the CCP

Source: China Media Project (2/17/23)
Co-Producing with the CCP
As documentaries and other forms of factual storytelling have emerged as a key means for China to influence global public opinion and “tell China’s story well,” one CCP-run production outfit has taken the lead in developing partnerships and co-productions with credible foreign channels. Our in-depth look at the China International Communication Center (CICC).
By David Bandurski

Image by Vancouver Film School available at under CC license.

As China has pursued greater influence over public opinion globally, responding to Xi Jinping’s call to “tell China’s stories well,” foreign media have been crucial channels for the state to reach audiences overseas. In some cases, state media have borrowed exposure through drop-in content, paying for the direct insert of state propaganda. But another important and perhaps more effective tactic has been the covert or non-transparent placement of state-produced messages through content sharing and co-production deals. These deals expose foreign audiences to programming from the Chinese state — often without the knowledge of even overseas media partners.

One of China’s most potent actors in this arena has been the China International Communication Center (五洲传播中心), or CICC, also known in Chinese as the China International Press (五洲传播出版社), and China Intercontinental Press Media (五洲传播出版传媒), or CIPM. CICC is housed directly under the Information Office of China’s State Council, whose main task is to produce foreign propaganda. The Information Office is essentially twinned with the Party’s Central Propaganda Department (CPD), a phenomenon known in Chinese as “one office, two signs on the door.” CICC’s physical offices are at the CPD office in central Beijing. Continue reading

Made in China 7.2

Dear Colleagues,

I am happy to announce the publication of the latest issue of the Made in China Journal. You can download it for free at this link:

Below you can find the editorial:

Prometheus in China: Techno-Optimism and Its Discontents

In 2020, Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping pledged to ‘transition to a green and low-carbon mode of development’, as well as to ‘peak the country’s CO2 emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060’. Xi’s pledge offered a tangible example of what has come to be known as the ecological civilisation (生态文明)—the idea of engineered harmony between humans and nature that was recently incorporated into the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China. But what kind of engineering is required for sustainable transitions at this scale and pace? Through which political concepts and technical practices could such a harmonious rebalancing of China’s resource-devouring development be envisioned and achieved? Continue reading

“Autumn Night” by Lu Ling

I’ve been working on translations of a few short stories by Lu Ling 路翎 (1923-1994) that I will be making available through the MCLC Resource Center web publication series. Here is the first—”Autumn Night” (1944). It appears below and at its online home:

Kirk Denton, MCLC

Autumn Night 秋夜

By Lu Ling 路翎

Translated by Kirk A. Denton [*]

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright February 2023)

A young Lu Ling, circa early 1940s.

When Zhang Boyao, a clerk for the county government, heard the county magistrate hold forth that morning on the merits and rewards of strenuous study, it dawned on him how very young he still was and something stirred inside him. Before lunch, paging through some “Secrets to the Success of Great Men,” he had a noble presentiment that provoked a plan of great passion. He borrowed a copy of Selections from the Classics and an Introduction to Accounting and took an abacus from the office; first he read “Military Counsel” by Master Zhuge Liang, then he read some accounting, practiced the abacus, and drew some charts—hard into the wee hours of the morning. He felt contented, full of yearning. There was no one around; a cold fall wind blew outside, and the indistinct sound of dogs barking could be heard in the distance. He listened intensely and felt that this was the most beautiful moment of his life.

“How nice to sit here reading quietly, I didn’t even notice the time!” he said, pushing aside the abacus in front of him and stretching. Continue reading

Retelling Trauma and Imagining Catastrophe–cfp

Call for Papers: Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association (RMMLA) Convention 2023
Denver, Colorado, October 11-14, 2023
Asian Comparative Literature and Film Session

Retelling Trauma and Imagining Catastrophe in the Modern Asian World

Images and narratives of potential catastrophes and traumatic aftermaths have taken hold of today’s popular imagination in our modern culture. Inspired by Eva Horn’s quest in The Future as Catastrophe, our panel invites examinations of recollections of the past’s traumas and fantasies of the future’s catastrophes in modern Asian literature, film, and culture. We invite interdisciplinary perspectives from memory studies, gender studies, posthumanism, ecocriticism, trauma studies, and other disciplines to offer scientific, political, and fictional depictions of trauma and catastrophes in modern Asia. We aim to investigate how traumatic memories rigorously shape the narrative of the past and reconstruct present reality through mass media productions. We also seek to explore how the imagination of future disasters can engage with our present and explore as well as create alternative realities. We intend to decipher the collective remembrance of the past and disastrous fantasies of the future to negotiate a platform in the present where we are able to interpret and perceive our living reality in modern Asia from a more knowledgeable vision and simulate an open future with rationality, sympathy, and solidarity. Continue reading

CLTT 53, 3-4

Dear colleagues,

We are running a free access period for the latest double-issue of Chinese Literature and Thought Today (CLTT) from now to March 31, 2023. During this period you can read and download all the essays in this issue for free.

CLTT v53, n3&4 (2022) features the second part of the special section “Re-Aestheticizing Labor” (guest-edited by Zhuoyi Wang and Ping Zhu) and “Chinese Literature and Culture in the Time of Contagion” (guest-edited by Howard Choy). The featured scholar is Chinese philosopher Deng Xiaomang 邓晓芒.

Our cover art is Ai Xiaoming’s 艾晓明 finger painting “Bird of Paradise” (天堂鸟). Please take advantage of the free access period to check out our brand new contents!


Ping Zhu (Acting Editor in Chief)

Passing of a colleague at Bard

Dear Members of the MCLC Community,

It is with deep sadness that I write on behalf of the Asian Studies Program at Bard College to share the news of the passing of our esteemed colleague, Li-hua Ying, after a long battle with cancer. Li-hua was a gifted literary scholar, a masterful teacher, and a talented calligrapher. She founded and developed the Chinese Studies Program at Bard and was a cornerstone of our Asian Studies community for more than three decades. Generations of students came to know China through her generous guidance, which was always seasoned with her sharp wit and wry humor. We at Bard are all mourning the loss of our longtime colleague. An excerpt from Bard President Leon Botstein’s message to the college community is pasted below. Thank you for joining us in remembering Li-hua’s life and contributions to the study and teaching of Chinese language and literature.


Rob Culp <>
Professor of History & Asian Studies, Bard College Continue reading


Source: China Digital Times (2/13/23)
Word of the Week: Huminerals (人矿 RÉN KUÀNG)
Posted by 

The new word “humineral” (人矿 rén kuàng) has taken the Chinese internet by storm and is now a sensitive word subject to censorship. First introduced in a now-censored Zhihu post on January 2, 2023, “humineral”—a portmanteau of 人 rén (“person”) and 矿 kuàng (“ore,” “mineral deposit,” or “mine”) in the original Chinese—describes a person relentlessly exploited by society until they are eventually discarded on the refuse pile. The original Zhihu post elucidated 10 tenets of the “humineral,” three of which CDT has translated below:

1. Huminerals: You are a resource, not a protagonist. You are a means, not an end. Your life’s work will go towards the fulfillment of others instead of the pursuit of your own desires.

2. The life of a humineral can be divided into three stages: extraction, exploitation, and slag removal. Investment in your education over your first decade or so is oriented at extracting your potential—turning you into usable ore. The middle decades are a process of exploitation and consumption. When you’re finally useless, they’ll use the least polluting method possible to dispose of you.

8. Huminerals power the motors that turn the wheels of history. Huminerals have few other choices: either fuel history’s engine, or be ground beneath its wheels. Of course the inverse is true. If huminerals were to stop propelling history, then those other huminerals who abstained would not be crushed. Yet there are always huminerals who see more value in a lifetime of being fuel than to risk being flattened.  [Chinese] Continue reading

PRISM 19.2

NEW PUBLICATION. PRISM 19:2 Special Issue:The Worlds of Southeast Asian Chinese Literature

We are pleased to announce the publication of Prism: Theory and Modern Chinese Literature‘s special issue “The Worlds of Southeast Asian Chinese Literature,” guest-edited by Carlos Rojas and CHAN Cheow Thia.

For centuries, multiple waves of Chinese migrants have fanned out to Southeast Asia, interacting in different ways with local populations and establishing complex legacies. This special issue examines some of these legacies through the prism of modern and contemporary Chinese literature from Southeast Asia, including literature written in various Sinitic languages, literatures written in creole, and also literature written in English. The special issue not only examines these literary formations and the worlds that they represent, it also showcases different interpretive methodologies that can be used to approach this rapidly developing field.

More about this special issue could be found at the following websites:

Volume 19 Issue 2 | Prism | Duke University Press (

A Duke University Press Journal (

Posted by: Heidi Huang